Villarreal will have to move their focus away from the excitement of going up against Arsenal to get ready for comparatively homely Athletic Bilbao tomorrow evening at El Madrigal. The thoughts of revenge will have to be focused on the struggling side from Bilbo.
The last time the two sides met, Villarreal managed an exceedingly comfortable 1-4 victory, with goals from Rossi, Cazorla, Pires, and Altidore. Villarreal will be hoping to keep a clean sheet to make up for the discouraging three goals allowed during last week's second half against Atletico Madrid. Villarreal will happily be able to call on the likes of Angel, Gonzalo, and Godin, who were all out last week. Unfortunately, the squad's lack of defensive depth was utterly exposed with just a couple of injuries, and Villarreal come in smarting from the experience.
Athletic Bilbao sulks onto the pitch after an eventful 2-5 loss to Madrid in which three individuals were ejected. They have lost three straight, and have not won in six matches. Bilbao's situation will not be made better by a deep bench, as they come into the match with Francisco Yeste (M), Ion Velez (F), and Carlos Gurpegui (M) all suspended. David Lopez (M) is injured.
Villarreal have a nearly full squad. They will miss Pires, who has an achilles issue, and Javi Venta, for his two yellow cards last week. Otherwise, everyone that could have possibly played tomorrow is available:
Keepers: Diego López and Viera; Defenders: Gonzalo, Fuentes, Godin, Capdevila, Angel; Midfielders: Marcos Senna, Eguren, Santi Cazorla, Ibagaza, Cani, Bruno and Matías Fernández; Forwards:Nihat, Rossi, Guille Franco and Llorente.
Pellegrini should not be forced to take any chances with an unusual lineup. I expect Rossi and Llorente will start up top, with Cazorla and Cani on the wings. Senna and Eguren should take their traditional roles in the middle, and the back line will be Angel - Gonzalo - Godin - Capdevila.
I feel like the match could catch Villarreal a little distracted. Perhaps the one benefit from the second-half thrashing last week in the Vicente Calderon is that Villarreal will not be too happy, and should be prepared. Villarreal 3 - 0 Athletic.